Moscow Residents Must Stand Up For Themselves – Analyst

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The electoral campaign for the Moscow City Duma kicked off on Monday, as the city began registering candidates for the October election.  This year, opposition leaders will try to put their names on the ballot, standing side by side with the Kremlin-sanctioned United Russia representatives.

Writing for the Yezhednevny Zhurnal online newspaper, Oleg Kozyrev comments on the importance of the election, urging Muscovites to stand up for themselves and their right to choose their representatives.  The road is difficult for the opposition and independent candidates, but with public support, victory is entirely possible.

It’s Time to Think About the Moscow Duma

Oleg Kozyrev
July 14, 2009
Yezhednevny Zhurnal

Moscow is still lazily stretching out in the drowsiness of summer, but somewhere out there, far away, the dust is already billowing- the suitors are galloping, racing to the matchmaking.  Not all the parties have assembled their processions yet, and not all the movements have loaded up the necessary gifts, but time is ticking- October is coming soon.  And the politician heartbreakers are rushing to their Moscow bride.

The city had more luck than the country.  Aside from party lists there are single mandate districts – apart from helplessly falling into the Kremlin’s harem, there is still a chance to marry for love.  The bride will have to decide.  The independent suitors are as one – in a difficult life situation.  They’re written in as extremists, and chained into shackles every month, and the OMON [riot police] are sent in, and they’re prevented from registering, and stigmatized for no reason on all the harem’s television screens.

They’ll need to fight at the registration stage, when every candidate must gather a certain amount of signatures.  This is precisely where Moscow’s help can become crucial.  Independent candidates, unloved by the backward Kremlin system, are eliminated most often at the stage of collecting signatures.  Muscovites who want to restore their right to choose for themselves will have to do everything possible at this stage, to leave their own signature, and to convince their friends and acquaintances to support the independent candidate.

In the end, if it’s for love, it must be for love.  Perhaps we need to gradually abandon the vague campaign posters, where candidates show us their airbrushed faces, accompanied by an electoral platform of two to three shallow slogans.  Russia’s largest city has a right to expect a developed program from the contenders.

The wheelchair bound have a right to ask if at least one street in the city will be fully equipped, from start to finish, for the handicapped.  In an enormous city, if only one.  Dog owners have a right to know whether there will be at least one district in the capital, where there are playgrounds and areas for dog walking.  Drivers could get an answer for when the city will get rid of emergency flashing lights [that provide special driving privileges] for civil servants, at least at the city level.  Residents of Moscow’s “rustic” homes -whether the right to private property will be respected, or whether they be forced out to the pavement, as was done in Butovo.  And so forth on every topic.

Finally, will the deputies fight to restore the very right to choose for Muscovites?  Or will they stamp the Kremlin candidates for mayor, as it has been up to now (with the exception of the KPRF [Communist Party] fraction, who don’t support the Putin-appointed Yury Luzhkov)?

The Moscow City Duma is the only instance where Muscovites have a choice.  At the city level there is no opportunity to select even prefects.  Like it or not, they say, but love the beauty.  And so Moscow is compelled to live cooped up in the background of her wishes.  A marriage without alternatives.

The only possibility to return the mayoral elections – is to elect ones own Moscow City Duma.  A Duma that will fight for the interests of city residents.  A kind of Duma that won’t fear a crackdown for the sake of the townspeople’s interests.

It’s not worth deceiving yourself.  If today there are no deputies at our side as we defend our squares, fight for spots in the day care centers, for no lines at the medical clinics; if they are not at our side at meetings, at pickets, then there, in the Duma, they will not stand up for us.  Today it is not enough to be a manager.  Today, no one needs a manager who will exchange the city’s residents for a percentage of a business deal.  The time has come not for managers, but for those who will serve the masters of the city- the Muscovites.  We don’t need an official, but a subordinate.

The suitors are nearing Moscow.  Some of them think that the capital has stopped choosing, that she will obediently go where she is ordered.  Others are convinced that Moscow has her own voice, and that she has a right to decide where to go for herself.  We’ll see in the fall who is right.

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